After you’ve polished off your holiday gift list (done making your books yet?), it might be time to get yourself a little something special. On a budget? You can still snap up great deals on gently-used camera equipment with a service like eBay.
First, do plenty of research to figure out exactly what you want. Check eBay’s completed listings for the going rate to use as a starting point for your bids. Then dive right in with these clever tips for buying used camera gear.
1. Shop Sunday night auctions: These items usually go for less than nearly any other day of the week.
2. Don’t search “title and descriptions”: (Unless the words you’re searching for are rare.) That way, you can cut through a lot of auctions that don’t interest you.
3. Search creatively: If you’re looking for a 70-200mm Canon L lens, just search “Canon 70-200.” eBay’s search may not catch an item if the seller leaves off part of the description – and you just might be able to get the item for less.
4. Sort, sort, sort: Especially if you know exactly what you’re looking for and have a firm price range. First, sort for the auctions ending soonest. Then, sort by price using the “buy-it-now” tab. If your item is cheap, just-listed, and buy-it-now, the first person who sees it can buy it – and that can be you!
5. Take a chance on too-good-to-be-true items: Every so often, that is. If an item’s got everything you want except a picture, go for it. It might be that your seller just didn’t take the time to snap a pic – and you’ve just got yourself an awesome deal. If not, PayPal and your credit card can cover purchases from a shady seller with charge-backs or insurance.
6. Break down your search results by category: You can score some very good deals when a seller puts an item in the wrong category.
7. Note “Buy-It-Now” items: If it looks like a great deal, but it’s been listed for days and no one has snatched it up, take note! Check past listings of the same item, and be sure the same lens from the same person hasn’t sold for the same price before. Try emailing the seller an offer – you could get a steal.
8. Check the seller’s account: If it’s WAY too good to be true, look at the seller’s other items. Many, many items at rock-bottom prices are a sign you should stay away. Their account may have been hacked, or worse.
9. Look at “Local Pick-Up Only” items: Make sure you sort by distance – you can get “local pick-up only” items at great auction prices because the seller would rather not make the trip to UPS.
10. Make yourself happy: If that lens you’re lusting after doesn’t include a hood, maybe you add on a $5 third-party hood and make yourself a real deal. Seeking that perfect lens at a bargain price? Be ready to wait – or just spend a little bit more and get what you want.
A big thanks to Jon Martin over at PetaPixel for all these terrific tips.